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The Thoughtful Animal

The Thoughtful Animal

Exploring the evolution and architecture of the mind
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    Jason G. Goldman Dr. Jason G. Goldman received his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at the University of Southern California, where he studied the evolutionary and developmental origins of the mind in humans and non-human animals. Jason is also an editor at ScienceSeeker and Editor of Open Lab 2010. He lives in Los Angeles, CA. Follow on . Follow on Twitter @jgold85.
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  • Where Did The Thoughtful Animal Go?

    If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve no doubt noticed that things have been a little quiet around here. While this blog isn’t dead, per se, it’s on an extended hibernation. In the meantime, find my writing at io9, Conservation Magazine, BBC Future, and elsewhere. You can keep up with me by keeping your eyes on [...]

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    Talking Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria

    TPL jason cara

    Earlier this week I sat down with my friend Cara Santa Maria to chat on her excellent podcast, Talk Nerdy. The conversation was wide-ranging: we talked about the discovery of a new group of insects in which the females have what many are calling a “penis-like structure” (but which the researchers have labeled a gynosome), [...]

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    Is It Good For Kids To Have A Pet?

    argo bone

    People overwhelmingly believe that having pets is overall a good thing for children. Indeed, a 2003 paper by developmental psychologist Gail F. Melson reports that most parents say that they acquired their family pets “for the kids.” But does this pervasive belief hold up to scientific scrutiny? The new field of human-animal interaction aims to [...]

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    Best of March, 2014


    March was a busy month! Here’s everything I wrote last month. Here on The Thoughtful Animal: Oil Pollution is Making Gulf Dolphins Sick Studying Contagious Yawning Might Help Us Build Better Societies The Turtle with Human Eyes When Animals Act Like People in Stories, Kids Can’t Learn At Conservation Magazine’s Conservation This Week blog: Move [...]

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    More Oarfish And This Time They’re Alive

    In October, two oarfish mysteriously washed up dead on beaches in Southern California. It’s unusual to find one intact oarfish carcass, so the fact that there were two within days of each other had scientists scratching their heads. While it was probably nothing more than coincidence, researchers quickly took the opportunity to study the intact [...]

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    When Animals Act Like People in Stories, Kids Can’t Learn


    “Yum, these grass and plants are delicious!” Mother cavy thinks as she eats her breakfast. “I will feed some to my baby cavies too!” she says. The baby cavies love to play in the grass! But they’ve gotten all dirty! “Time for your bath,” Mother cavy says. Mother cavy and her babies like to spend [...]

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    The Turtle with Human Eyes

    turtle vision Trachemys Side view when pitched up

    At first glance, most eyes look the same. There’s a small opening through which light passes. That light goes through the transparent liquid behind the lens and strikes the retina, a thin film of light-sensitive nerve cells that line the back of the eye. But there’s actually a great deal more to vision than that. [...]

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    Studying Contagious Yawning Might Help Us Build Better Societies


    We often turn to dogs and to chimpanzees to understand our species. Chimpanzees are our closest relatives (with bonobos), while centuries of selective breeding have turned dogs into a species uniquely suited to comprehend our own social cues. If anybody can help us understand contagious yawning, it’s them. This week, primatologists Matthew Campbell and Frans [...]

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    Oil Pollution is Making Gulf Dolphins Sick

    For eighty-seven days in 2010, 210 million gallons of oil from wells below the Deepwater Horizon poured into the Gulf of Mexico. Researchers announced recently that as a result, Bottlenose dolphins in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay are suffering from a host of maladies, including lung disease and adrenal problems. They’re also losing their teeth. The research [...]

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    Cows Learn Better With Friends

    dairy calf

    My schoolteachers took effort to separate close friends when arranging their classroom seating charts. The idea was that we’d pay more attention to our lessons if we were distracted by our buddies. Dairy cattle also tend to be separated from each other, but that may actually put them at a disadvantage. Calves are separated from [...]

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